Day 32: The Right Way to Network

I’m a member of a top secret wedding organization here in the Phoenix Valley. Every 3 months we get together for a sponsored event and we drink, we talk, we eat, and we listen to a speaker. The intention of this organization is to make friends in the industry. By the third meeting, I looked around from the corner and thought “I think I’m doing this wrong.” In fact, I was sure I was doing it wrong when the same caterer introduced himself to me three times in a row at different events. Finally the last time, I said “Yes. We’ve met. Three times.” We had a good laugh but can we be honest about those things? Us introverts feel like TOTAL OUTSIDERS! I sometimes look around, pink margarita in hand, and think “Is EVERYONE here best friends??” And then I go say hello to the beer burro because you’re allowed to give him a carrot.

So… let’s get it together and go to some events!

The first thing you need to do is tell someone you’re going and then make sure you go. Showing up is half of it. Really. If nothing else, get your face in the crowd and then do it again and again so people at least know your face.

Second, check out the guest list. Open up that Facebook invite and see who else is going. Is someone going who you follow on Instagram? “I love your Instagram!” is a good opener. Who doesn’t like a compliment from a follower? Are some people who you’ve already met going? This is a good time to build on relationships you already have, and that might be less scary than the thought of going up to someone you’ve never met.

Third, talk about them. I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago and he had met a giant in his industry a few years before. He isn’t a photographer, he’s a musician, and when I say an industry giant, I mean like, you’ve heard of this person. And so have your parents. And so have your Grandparents. My friend said that right from the start, this crazy famous person was incredibly excited to hear about all the things my friend was doing here in Gilbert. He was all ears, gave him his full attention, asked questions… and my friend was (comparably) no one. Be interested in others. No matter how big or small you are in the industry. Be so interested in others and supportive… that alone will set you apart by a margin of a few miles.

Fourth, go with a friend. I went to Showit United last year and two women I had invited also came. It was fabulous! At the opening poolside party, I asked who they had met and they said no one. So I asked “Who do you want to meet?” and we met them. We went together to gush over Julie Paisley and Jodi Gray and it was anything but awkward. We said HI! We said WE LOVE YOUR WORK! We chatted and laughed and allowed ourselves to have fun with other photographers. There’s some freedom in going with a friend and allowing yourselves to have fun.

Lastly, focus on meeting one person and making one friend per event. You won’t cultivate anything by flying around, making it rain business cards, throwing your name and hardly catching anyone else’s. Meet one person, follow up with them after the event, follow up with them again before the next event, and make sure you’re there for genuine connections.

What are your thoughts? Are you an introvert? Do you have trouble networking or is it something that comes naturally to you? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you tomorrow for day 33: When to raise your prices.

Day 98 is currently reserved for any questions you have throughout the next 100 days. To submit a question, please click here!¬† If you’re interested in supporting this project, please share, PIN and comment! Any other questions, comments or ideas, please feel free to email me at denise(at)denisekaris(dot)com

Denise Karis is an Arizona photographer who enjoys musicals, Doctor Who and breakfast burritos. IG @denisekaris